Why Career-Track Education Must Be a Priority
Having a college degree drastically improves single mothers’ prospects and allows them to model education attainment for their children.
A critical stepping stone for low-income mothers striving to find a pathway out of poverty is the attainment of a college degree. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, each level of education past high school results in a 32 percent reduction in the likelihood of a single mother living in poverty. Just 13 percent of single mothers with a college degree live in poverty compared to 41 percent with only a high school degree.
When women enter Jeremiah Program, they meet with a family coach who works with them to set educational goals and choose a career-track path. Accessing and succeeding in a degree program is a requirement and a central focus at Jeremiah. It’s also an opportunity to engage in long-term planning and personal development that may have been previously impossible given how much energy mothers must put into meeting their families’ immediate needs.
Kylie, who lives with her three-year-old daughter at Jeremiah Program’s Fargo campus, is studying health services administration. “I’m going for a bachelor’s degree at MSUM [Minnesota State University Moorhead],” she says. “I recently graduated from the Minnesota State Community and Technical College with a diploma in medical coding and an associate’s degree in medical administrative assistance, so, I am about halfway there. … I’m really passionate about all the things that I’m doing, and I know that I’m going for a solid career in healthcare. With all the things that I’m doing, who knows what I can do?”
Nailah, a mother of two who participates in Jeremiah Program’s Brooklyn program, is also looking to the future and envisioning how she will put her knowledge and skills to use. “With the support of my family coach, my goal [is] finishing my last semester, graduating with my associate’s, and continuing on with my bachelor’s degree,” she says. “I plan on operating my own nonprofit organization for women that have the same experience as me … and really making a difference in society. That’s my goal.”